I wonder if half of the people ranting and raving, cleaning their guns before they go to their Sarah Palin/Tea Party rallies and waving their flags with the snake on it from the Metallica Black Album with the song title from track number 6 on that album, really know its origins and what it stood for? Half of them just think it looks cool, and half of them think it's probably actually originated with Metallica. Here's a little history about both versions of the flag, that all of the people that think they are angry because the pundits told them they are, love to fly.
The Culpepper Minutemen:
The Culpeper Minutemen organized on 17 July 1775 under a large oak tree in "Clayton's old field" on the Catalpa estate near Culpeper, Virginia.
The Culpeper minutemen fought for the patriot side in the first year of the American Revolution, and are remembered for their company flag: a white banner featuring a rattlesnake, featuring the phrases "Liberty or Death" and "Don't Tread on Me". At the time, Culpeper was considered frontier territory, and the Culpeper minutemen, many of them hunters, preferred the rifle to the musket.
In October 1775, the minutemen were sent to Hampton in response to British ships attempting to land. The riflemen were able to effectively shoot the men manning the ships cannons, and the fleet eventually sailed away.
The Culpeper militia next participated in the Battle of Great Bridge in December 1775. The battle was a complete American victory. There were accounts of the battle that suggested the British were unnerved by the reputation of the frontiersmen.
The Culpeper Minutemen disbanded in January 1776 under orders from the Committee of Safety. Many of the minutemen continued to serve. Some joined the continental line, and others fought under Daniel Morgan.
John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States, was a member of the original Culpeper Minutemen.
In 1860, the Culpeper Minutemen were formed under the same oak tree where the 1775 Minutemen had organized. They also carried the same rattlesnake flag. The unit was mustered into the Confederate 13th Infantry and fought in several battles.
According to the Museum of Culpeper History, the Minutemen were again organized for the Spanish-American War, but were never activated for duty.
The Culpeper Minutemen were again organized for World War I, and joined the 116th Infantry.
Christopher Gadsden and his amazing Yellow Flag
The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the snake is the legend "DONT TREAD ON ME".The flag was designed by and is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden.
So what's with the snake you ask???
The use of the timber rattlesnake as a symbol of the American colonies can be traced back to the publications of Benjamin Franklin. In 1751, he made the first reference to the rattlesnake in a satirical commentary published in his Pennsylvania Gazette. It had been the policy of Britain to send convicted criminals to America, so Franklin suggested that they thank the British by sending rattlesnakes to England.
In 1754, during the French and Indian War, Franklin published his famous woodcut of a snake cut into eight sections. It represented the colonies, with New England joined together as the head and South Carolina as the tail, following their order along the coast. Under the snake was the message "Join, or Die". This was the first political cartoon published in an American newspaper.
As the American Revolution grew, the snake began to see more use as a symbol of the colonies. In 1774, Paul Revere added it to the title of his paper, the Massachusetts Spy, as a snake joined to fight a British dragon. In December 1775, Benjamin Franklin published an essay in the Pennsylvania Journal under the pseudonym American Guesser in which he suggested that the rattlesnake was a good symbol for the American spirit.
Considered one of the first flags of the United States, the flag was later replaced by the current Stars and Stripes (or Old Glory) flag. Since the Revolution, the flag has seen times of reintroduction as both a symbol of American patriotism and as a symbol of disagreement with the government.The rattlesnake from the flag is shown on the U.S. Army's Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, at the top of the Army Flag with the cannons, and was also used in one of the first flags adopted by the US Marine Corps.
I'm sure that the first couple of well intentioned angry peeps that flew this at the first Glenn Beck 9/12 project/Tea Party rally might have known a little about the significance of this flag. I am highly satisfied that many of the rest of them think it's just from that cool Metallica song.
Thanks to Wikipedia for providing lots of source for me to cut and paste.
Freedom of Speech is great. Just know the legacy of the symbols you use to speak your ills.